Allen Park financial review denied

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK– A resident’s request for a state review of the city’s finances has been denied.

Last week, Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon turned down a request from resident Bryan Diebolt for a financial review, the first step toward the state appointment of an emergency financial manager. Under the new law, emergency financial managers can void contracts, sell assets and dissolve entire governments in financially struggling cities.

According to published reports, state officials determined the request was premature, noting Allen Park officials were aware of the city’s financial situation and are taking steps to address it.

The city has not yet set a budget for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, and City Administrator David Tamsen announced at a recent meeting that the city could be out of money in a matter of weeks. Officials are considering private loans and a Headlee Override millage to provide a “cushion.” A Healdee Override returns the millage to the amount originally authorized by the city, allowing it to override the Headlee Amendment to the state constitution, which requires a local government to reduce its millage when annual property growth exceeds the rate of inflation.

Under the state’s emergency financial manager law which passed in March, a resident does not have the authority to request a financial review. A petition must be signed by five percent of residents who voted for governor in 2010.

In Diebolt’s letter, submitted in March, he pointed out that a debt rating in the BBB range can also warrant a financial review. Allen Park’s debt rating is in that range.

The letter also mentions layoff notices given to the entire Fire Department before they were rescinded earlier this year. Negotiations between the city and Fire Department are ongoing.

Emergency Financial Managers were appointed under Gov. Jennifer Granholm in Ecorse, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Detroit Public Schools.